"What the Papers Said" - from Shropshire Caving & Mining Club Archives
Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, December
A gloom was cast over the town of Madeley when it became known that a shocking disaster had occurred at the Kemberton Colliery, the property of the Madeley Wood Colliery Company, on Sunday night, whereby seven lives were lost.
Eleven men, under the charge of Fireman George Gough, were to have gone down that night to do some repairs in preparation for the 200 or 300 miners who should have begun work in the early hours of Monday morning. At the time for descending the shaft, however, only nine men and youths had put in an appearance, and the fireman directed that two of the men should await the arrival of the absentees, and go down into the pit by the next cage. The signal was given for the descent, and when the cage had gone down about forty yards the rope suddenly snapped, and the cage containing the men was precipitated to the bottom of the shaft, some 800 feet below, with terrible consequences, the seven, miners being dashed to pieces. The colliery manager was summoned, and help was soon forthcoming. When the rescue party descended the pit by the other shaft they saw a shocking spectacle, the bodies being so mangled as to be almost beyond recognition. They were brought to the surface and placed the engine room for identification, and here some heart-rending scenes were subsequently witnessed, when the widows and families of the men and other relatives and friends were summoned to the spot.
The victims were George Gough, Prince Street, Madeley (who leaves a wife and four children); Arthur Wilton, Park Lane, Madeley (wife and two children) ; Richard Rogers, Victoria Road, Madeley (wife and two children); Thomas Glenister, Dawley (wife and eight children) : Alphonso Stanley, Shifnal, 19, single: Randolph Cecil Miles, Prince Street, boy 14; and Albert Jones, Church Road, Dawley, boy 14.
Up to the present the reason of the rope breaking is wrapped in mystery. It had been duly tested as late as Sunday morning, the day of the accident, and appeared to be in perfect condition. The breaking strain of this particular rope is said to be 60 tons, and at the time of the accident the total weight of the cage and its occupants would only be about 30 cwt.
The other pits owned by the Madeley Wood Colliery Company were closed fur the day on Monday; and political meetings arranged to he held in the district were cancelled by Captain Forester. Mr. Henry and Mr. Stanier, who have each sent messages of sympathy with the bereaved relatives of the victims of the accident.
The Madeley Wood Company has received the following telegram from Mr. H. Johnstone, H.M. Chief Inspector of Mines:— "I am desired by the Secretary of State to convey to the relatives and friends of those who lost their lives through the unfortunate accident in the Kemberton pit shaft on Sunday night an expression of his great regret and deep sympathy."
The inquiry was opened by Mr. Coroner Lander and a jury on Tuesday. Mr. Hugh Johnstone, H M. Inspector of Mines, and his assistant, Mr. Wynne, were present, and also Mr. Phillips, solicitor, Shifnal, in addition to the colliery managers.
Before the inquiry was proceeded with, Mr. Phillips, with the Coroner's permission, said that he had received a telegram from Sir Arthur Anstice as follows:— "I wish my deepest sympathy expressed at inquest today to wives and families of poor miners and boys killed". Mr. Phillips also spoke of the sympathy which the company extended to the relatives in their sad bereavement, adding that no words would adequately express their feelings. The Coroner and jury would he rendered every possible assistance to arrive at the truth and the exact cause of the accident.
Mr. Latham, on behalf of the Miners' Federation, said he had also received numerous telegrams of condolence, and on behalf of the Federation expressed his deepest sympathy.
Mr. Hugh Johnstone intimated to the Coroner that he had received a message from the Home Secretary, condoling with the bereaved relatives and friends of the unfortunate victims.
The bodies were then viewed, and after formal evidence of identification had been given by William Fletcher, bank foreman, who lives at Madeley, the inquiry was adjourned until Friday week, when it will be reopened at the Police Station at Shifnal.
On Thursday in very stormy weather, with rain continuously falling, were laid to rest in Madeley Parish Churchyard, four of Sunday night's victims, viz., George Gough, Arthur Wilton, Richard Rogers, and Randolph Cecil Miles. At the request of the Mayor (Alderman A. B. Dyas) business was suspended during the obsequies. Shops were closed, and every cottage throughout the town had its blinds drawn. The whole town was in mourning, whilst hundreds of mourners of the general public made their way to the recently-restored Parish Church, where an impressive service was conducted by the Rev. E. Bulstrode Pryce (vicar), assisted by the curate (the Rev. R. Gillenders). The streets were lined with interested spectators, and at the graveside nearly the whole of those present (2,000) were moved to tears. The bodies were conveyed to the colliery manager's (Mr. J. Cock's) residence, and a procession of the whole of the Madeley Wood "Field", numbering 1,000, with tradesmen and others, pathetically wended their way to the old church, the line of the route being crowded with the inhabitants of the district.
The procession was headed by the Rev. F. Bulstrode Pryce (vicar), Rev. I. Brentnall (Primitive Methodist), Mr. W. S. Hall (Baptist), and the Rev. Stanley Rowe (Wesleyan). The members of the Madeley Foresters' Society followed their colleague Gough, whilst the Rev. R. Gillenders (curate) and his class followed the corpse of their late member, Richard Rogers. Among others present in the huge procession were Sir Arthur Anstice, Messrs. J. Cadman (managing director of the Madeley Wood Co.), G. Gray (engineer). T. Oakes (cashier), A. W. Bartlam, J. L. Hornblower, Gerrard, J. Yorke. J. and F. Jones, Dr. Droop, Alderman A. B. Dyas (mayor), Captain Forester, Mr. C. S. Henry and his son, Messrs. C. Fennell, W. J. and A. Jeffrey, A. Childs, W. Jenks, W. Poole. A. A. Onions. F. Withers, T. C. Shingler, W. G. Dyas, R. Clarke, W. Latham, B. Preece, A. Trevor, H. Fletcher, T. Dorsett, W. Hornblower, T. Brickley, W. B. Scott (marshal), G. Stead. P. Bowen. W. W. Marrion. J. L. Hornblower, H. W. Thomas, F. S. Mills, T. Tranter, E. Bullock, W. Price, J. W. Fletcher. W. P. Pope. H. Jones, B. Maddox, G. Green, A. O. Calkers, &c. The body of Wilton was taken to the Baptist Chapel, where Mr. W. S. Holt conducted the ceremony. At the well-filled church, the choir was present, and sang "When our heads are bowed with woe", and at the graveside "Thy will be done". Mr. J. Ellis presided at the organ, and beautifully played Chopin's "Funeral March" and the Dead March "Saul". The day schools were closed, and the Union Jack was at half-mast, and after the service the ringers gave a muffled peal. Superintendent Tait with his large staff of constabulary capably managed one of the biggest crowds that have ever been seen in the town. The same day the remains of Thomas Glenister were buried in Dawley Parish Churchyard, the body of Albert Jones in Malinslee Churchyard, and that of Alphonse Stanley at Shifnal.
SUBSCRIPTION LIST OPENED.
The Mayor of Wenlock, Alderman Dyas, has opened a subscription list for the benefit of the wives and families of the victims. His appeal, which appears in to-day's advertising columns, should receive a ready response.
IRON-BRIDGE - THE PIT DISASTER.
At a Unionist meeting held at Iron-Bridge on Tuesday in support of the candidature of Captain Forester, the Chairman, Mr. Sydney Maw, referred to the sad pit disaster at Madeley, and moved the following resolution, which was carried in silence:
That this meeting learns with deep and sincere regret of the deplorable accident at the Kemberton pit of the Madeley Wood Co., whereby seven minors lost their lives; and hereby tenders to the widows, families, and relatives of such men their heartfelt and deep sympathy with them in their sad bereavement.,,
Before Messrs. A. B. Dyas (Mayor), F. R. Smith, B. Maddox, W. Roberts, and Dr. Collins.
THE PIT DISASTER.—The Mayor said that before they began the business of the Court he wished to refer to the terrible calamity that had taken place that week in the neighbourhood. They felt most sincerely for the wives, parents, and children of those who were gone. He was sure they had the sympathy of the Bench and of everyone attending the Court.
Submitted by Steve Dewhirst